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Reply To: Looking to ride for fitness & altruism – need advice

statrixbob, January 24, 2016 at 10:42 pm


You have a great goal and I don’t want to dissuade you, but I do have some experience to share. I’ve ridden RAGBRAI twice, 2011 and 2013, and I’ll be back this year.

The first two times I rode I was as heavy as you are now, so weight isn’t a real problem for riding, though I’ll admit it doesn’t make things easier. I did work up to the ride though.

There’ll be a riding plan released later (here’s the 2015 version: https://ragbrai.com/2015/04/06/ragbrai-training-2015-ragbrai-training-plan/)

The first year I rode I stuck to it and managed to do the ride. I say managed because I did have some tough days but that was really more the heat than the distance, Hawaii for all of it’s image as tropical isn’t nearly as hot as Ohio in the summer.

The second year I was still heavy and had a bad hip but I’d ridden a lot of miles between 2011 and 2013 and it was much smoother – as I recall it was also a lot cooler.

Here’s the thing. I was riding lots of miles each year and not losing any weight. My cardio was great and I was a reasonably strong rider, if not blazingly fast.

But I wasn’t losing any weight.

In 2014 I had a hip replacement so I didn’t do any long rides, though I was on a stationary bike 3 days after surgery and on the road six weeks after surgery (doc didn’t want me to have an accident and shatter the hip, the motion itself was fine). I was still heavy.

In November that year (2014) I was really tired of being heavier than I would have preferred and changed my diet completely. I don’t want to get into a debate about what one should eat and so on, but I will say my choice was low carb. It worked for me.

Today I’m somewhere between 185 and 190. I’m still riding a lot of miles; about 5500 last year. My riding is still strong and I am faster, though still no speed demon (I prefer comfort and distance to speed).

Here’s the deal. My experience is that exercise alone isn’t going to help you lose a lot of weight. Yes you’ll be healthier and feel better, but without changing your diet the weight isn’t necessarily going to come off.

However with a good plan for changing your eating habits your weight will come off and riding will help and become progressively more fun.

Ultimately the point is, you can do it. You’ll have to stick to it and remember to have fun…if I weren’t enjoying myself and the results I probably wouldn’t have stuck to it.

To prove it can happen, here I am in 2013 in Council Bluffs across from Omaha if I’m not mistaken: https://flic.kr/p/foNr2z

Here I am after riding the GAP/C&O last summer: https://goo.gl/photos/rna3QGrTzGCRbMBF6

Good luck and see you o the road!



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